With the long-awaited 90201 revival just a few weeks out, many will notice the absence of Luke Perry, who tragically died earlier this year after suffering a massive stroke at age 52. While fans will never get to see Perry appear alongside his former co-stars in the reboot, his longtime screen partner Shannen Doherty is set to appear in Season 4 of Riverdale to honour her late friend.
The cast and creators of Riverdale appeared at Comic-Con on Sunday and spoke about their late pal and co-star, with executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa confirming during the panel that Perry’s loss and the loss of his character Fred Andrews will be addressed in Season 4 with a tribute episode. Describing the tribute as “very emotional,” Aguirre-Sacasa said the episode will “reflect Perry’s enduring legacy and the indelible imprint his character,” adding that it will also feature a guest role from Doherty, who celebrated the news on her Instagram account.
Posting two pictures of the pair, including an image of the longtime friends on set of Beverly Hills, 90210, as well as an updated black and white snap, Doherty praised the Riverdale cast and crew, writing “I am deeply honored to pay tribute to Luke on Riverdale. The care in which this show takes in honoring his memory is beautiful.” The actor concluded the emotional post with the message, “He is missed. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.”
Doherty’s appearance on the fourth season of the hit show is “something that Luke wanted to happen since Season 1,” revealed Aguirre-Sacasa. “They were such good friends, and when we were putting together this tribute episode, we wanted to make it as special as possible, and so we asked Shannen to do a pivotal, super-emotional role. She read the script and immediately said ‘Yes.’ It’s very impactful,” he said.
Cole Sprouse, who plays Jughead Jones on Riverdale, said that Doherty’s presence on set helped the cast with their own grieving. “It was cathartic for all of us, it put the cherry on top of that episode and made a nice tribute,” said Sprouse. “She was overjoyed to have the ability to share some of the burden of Luke’s passing that she had gone through in a cathartic setting with the rest of us.”
Perry played Fred Andrews, dad to series’ lead Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) for all three seasons of the hit teen drama. With Perry’s death taking place before shooting was completed on the third season, Aguirre-Sacasa said the writers decided to wait until Season 4 for a tribute rather than rush it. “We really wanted to honour Luke, to honour Fred and we wanted it to be a standalone, really emotional, really focused on what this character meant to this group of people,” said Aguirre-Sacasa. Following Perry’s death, the remainder of Season 3 was dedicated to the beloved actor.
As for other Season 4 developments, fans at Sunday’s Comic-Con panel learned that Molly Ringwald would take on a more permanent role as Archie’s estranged mother, while Dawson’s Creek alum Kerr Smith will join the cast as Riverdale High principle Mr. Honey.
Riverdale is scheduled to return in October, with the upcoming BH90210 set to premiere on August 7. The reboot will also include a tribute to Perry, who played Dylan McKay on the original series for eight seasons.